According to Echols, “He suggests that before you sit down to write a novel, you make a list of everything you love to see in novels. When you write your own novel, you should put the stuff from your list in there. Then you should make a second list of everything you hate to see in novels. When you write your own novel, you should make sure none of the stuff from that second list creeps in when you’re tired.”
Ooh, neat. But looking at that idea from the perspective of a reader, I can generate an equally useful list – for shopping and seeking recommendations.
Here’s my list:
Things I Love:
Characters who are mysterious, who don’t say much, but whose deeds are wonderfully telling and could reveal a character who keeps a great deal of depth hidden. I’m all about the steamy unspoken ardor.
Example: Gleason’s Max from the Gardella Chronicles, who carries a burnt rose in his pocket from when Victoria lit it on fire to try to see in the dungeon where they were trapped. He kept it – and would be mortified if anyone found out that he did and asked him why.
Characters who are genuinely funny, not just in a slapstick way but in a witty, clever, and realistic way.
Example: Deirdre Martin’s Power Play, in which a soap opera actress falls for a hockey player. The hockey team’s scenes in particular had me giggling to the point that Hubby wanted to know what was wrong with me.
Plots that are sustained by multiple threads of tension, some large and some small, that don’t line up like links on a chain one after another merely for additional pages. Wait, that’s more of a hate. So let’s go there.
Things I Hate:
Dialogue that is completely unrealistic.
Characters getting angry for no good reason, except to sustain conflict. Flipping out over minor things, getting all icy and disdainful for really stupid shit? GAH. (Harlequin Presents and Helen Brooks, I am LOOKING AT YOU.)
What do you want as a reader? What don’t you want? And as a writer, do you write the plots you love to read?